The Color of Wealth in Los Angeles

The rapid growth of asset poverty in the United States is a troublesome sign that millions of families nationwide lack the resources necessary to secure a more stable financial future. These include the resources that would provide a financial reserve in periods of uncertainty (e.g, job loss, illness, etc.), enable a home purchase, assure quality secondary education for children, and insure retirement income. In addition, many families are challenged to earn sufficient income to afford basic needs like housing, food, transportation, and medical care. Wealth is iterative; it allows families to make investments in homes, education, child well-being, and business development, thereby offering better opportunities for future generations.

The findings in this report from the National Asset Scorecard for Communities of Color (NASCC) survey reveal major disparities in wealth accumulation across various racial and ethnic groups in Los Angeles. The NASCC survey was developed to supplement existing national data sets that collect data on household wealth in the United States but rarely collect data that is disaggregated by specific national origin.

The NASCC survey collects detailed data on assets and debts among subpopulations, according to race, ethnicity, and country of origin. This report features estimates for U.S.-born blacks, blacks who are recent immigrants from Africa (African blacks), Mexicans, other Latinos, Asian Indians, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese in the Los Angeles Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). Our analysis shows that with respect to types and size of household assets and debt, there are significant differences across race, ethnicity and ancestral origin. The report explores what factors are related to wealth accumulation for particular racial and ethnic groups, such as historical context, local asset markets, and intergenerational wealth transfers. Wealth is the paramount indicator of economic inequality.

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Authors: Melany De La Cruz-Viesca, University of California Los Angeles; Zhenxiang Chen, University of California Los Angeles; Paul M. Ong, University of California Los Angeles; Darrick Hamilton, The New School; William A. Darity Jr., Duke University